News / Asia

Pakistan, Russia Intensify Contacts to Improve Ties

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, left, holds talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 4, 2012.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, left, holds talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 4, 2012.
Ayaz Gul
— Pakistan and Russia have held high-level discussions focusing on how to expand their political, economic and military relationship.  But analysts believe Afghanistan is at the center of the intensified diplomacy as both countries are positioning themselves in anticipation of expected withdrawal of most U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani traveled to Moscow this week while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Islamabad.

The high-level exchanges took place just days after President Vladimir Putin cancelled his much anticipated trip to Pakistan, which would have been the first visit by a Russian head of the state.  He was supposed to be in the Pakistani capital this week to attend a summit involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia, which was also postponed.  The cancellation is seen by many as a setback for efforts to improve ties.

However, speaking in Islamabad at the end of their talks Thursday, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov both dismissed those suggestions.

“I think the fact that Foreign Minister Lavrov is with us on two-day notice should also be taken as a very positive indication in terms of Russian Federation’s commitment to this relationship,” said Khar.

Timing of warmer relationship

The warming of Islamabad’s ties with Moscow comes amid a persistently strained relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

“We have had a rollercoaster-type relationship with the United States, repeated sanctions against Pakistan, economic sanctions, threats of military sanctions and especially in the last 10 years - this popular anti-U.S. sentiment has grown so much in Pakistan that now I think people of Pakistan would welcome warming up with the Russians,” said Farooq Hameed Khan, a former Pakistani army brigadier.

But many critics are skeptical about recent intensified diplomatic and military exchanges between Pakistan and Russia, in view of a troubled history of bilateral ties.

Pakistan, together with the United States, funded and trained the Afghan Mujahideen who successfully fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.  That collaboration has remained a major hurdle in efforts to revive ties between Islamabad and Moscow.

Center of diplomacy

The chairman of Pakistani Senate’s Defense Committee, Mushahid Hussain, says that while the stepped up diplomacy signifies a new beginning in Islamabad’s relations with Moscow, Pakistan, Russia and other regional powers are positioning themselves in anticipation of the expected U.S.-NATO withdrawal from war-ravaged Afghanistan in 2014.

“So in that context, our relationship with Russia assumes a certain importance because in the Cold War and after, we could not revive that relationship," said Hussein. "This also has implications for regional economic cooperation because Russia is sitting on top of important oil and gas reserves.  So the relationship is not just going to be political, it’s also going to be economic.”

While in Islamabad, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov also acknowledged that Afghanistan was a major subject of his talks with Pakistani officials.  He stated that both countries share views on how to resolve the Afghan conflict.   

He emphasized that all proposals with the respect to solving the Afghan conflict must emerge from within that country through a national reconciliation process that involves all stakeholders who abide by the country’s constitution and reject violence.

Pakistan’s role is considered crucial to the Afghan reconciliation process because of its past links with some insurgent groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.

The United States has acknowledged the key role Islamabad can play in efforts aimed at bringing Afghan insurgents to the negotiating table.  At the same time, U.S. officials have alleged that elements within the Pakistani military still support the militant Haqqani network in carrying out cross-border raids on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid